EU foreign ministers called on Russia on Monday to withdraw its troops from a ‘threatening posture’ in Eastern Ukraine, after pro-Russian separtists occupied official buildings over the weekend about 150 km from the Russian border.
The plea comes after the pro-Russian side ignored a Monday morning deadline by the Ukrainian government to disarm or face a “full-scale anti-terrorist operation”, raising the risk of a military confrontation with Moscow.
“We will call on Russia to withdraw its troops from a threatening posture along Ukraine’s border. At the same time we should help Ukraine to consolidate as a country that is carrying out reforms and that can achieve economic and social success.” said Polish Minister for Foreign Affairs Radoslaw Sikorski.
Meeting in Luxembourg for a two-day discussion, EU foreign ministers are also considering a third round of sanctions against Russia.
The EU has already blacklisted 51 Russian and Ukrainian individuals, some of them from Putin’s inner circle.
“But it is also important to discuss the timing and extent of further sanctions to be applied to individuals in Russia, to complete the preparations for what has been referred to as a third tier of sanctions, more far-reaching economic measures, it is very important for us to discuss these things in detail among the EU foreign ministers today.” said British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs William Hague.
Russia, the U.S. and the EU are set to meet on Thursday to discuss possible solutions to the Ukrainian crisis.